Monday, November 30, 2015

Memphis Botanic Garden in the Fall


A week ago I went to the Memphis Botanic Garden, one of my favorite local parks.


What lovely Autumn color! Now to be honest, there've been better years for good fall color, and we never get the kind of glorious color here in Memphis that people in some other parts of the country are blessed with. Nevertheless....


We had had our first frost on our patio the night before, though some areas had frost earlier. The high temperature on the day I was here was 58F.


There were people in every area of the park, but not so many that it was hard to get photos.


It's such a peaceful setting. Take a seat, and enjoy the late afternoon.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bay of Angels


The Bay of Angels is a 2001 novel -her 22nd- by Anita Brookner. This author always appeals to me, and I am reading her novels as I come across them.

from the fly leaf:
Zoe Cunningham is delighted when her widowed mother remarries, particularly as her new step-father is amiable, generous, and the owner of a villa in Nice. Enchanted visits come to an abrupt end when an entirely unexpected development leads to a bewildering decline in which both Zoe and Anne, her mother, are trapped.

Surrounded by strangers, no matter how well-meaning, Zoe and Anne yearn for home, although in different ways, even as that home appears ever more remote, and even as Zoe begins to follow the movements of a reclusive and alluring man. Forced to learn how and how not to trust appearances, Zoe hopes for a benign outcome, as she'd so often read about in the fairy tales of her childhood. It may in fact be possible, but only if she is willing to shed the illusions that those stories did so much to encourage.
The book begins:
I read the Blue Fairy Book, the Yellow Fairy Book, and the stories of Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault. None of this was groundwork for success in worldly terms, for I was led to think, indeed I was minded to think, of the redeeming situation or presence which would put to rights the hardships and dilemmas under which the characters, and I myself, had been laboring. More dangerously, it seemed I need make no decisions on my own behalf, for destiny or fate would always have the matter in hand. Although I was too sensible, even as a child, to believe in a fairy godmother I accepted as part of nature's plan that after a lifetime of sweeping the floor I would go to the ball, that the slipper would fit, and that I would marry the prince. Even the cruel ordeals undergone by the little match girl, or by Hansel and Gretel, would be reversed by that same principle of inevitable justice which oversaw all activities, which guided some even if it defeated others. I knew that some humans were favoured -by whom? by the gods? (this evidence was undeniable)- but I was willing to believe in the redeeming feature, the redeeming presence that would justify all of one's vain striving, would dispel one's disappointments, would in some mysterious way present one with a solution in which one would have no part, so that all one had to do was to wait, in a condition of sinless passivity, for the transformation that would surely take place.
random quotes:
Even a happy ending cannot always banish a sense of longing.
*******
That is why stories are so important: they reveal one to oneself, bringing into the forefront of one's consciousness realizations which so far have been dormant, unexamined.
*******
What courage it must take to grow old!
*******

The Guardian says, "If you had never read Anita Brookner before, you would be unreservedly delighted by this book. Its workmanship is such a treat." The New York Times has a positive review and says, "Freedom from attachment, the novel suggests, is no freedom at all."

other Brookner books I've read:

A Start in Life (1981, US title The Debut)
Hotel du Lac (1984)
A Misalliance (1986)
A Friend from England (1987)
Brief Lives (1990)
Fraud (1992)
A Family Romance (1993, US title Dolly)
Altered States (1996)
Visitors (1997)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hunted

Hunted is a touching 1952 drama starring Dirk Bogarde. Bogarde is a man who has just killed his wife's boss for a suspected affair with his wife. A 6 year old orphan runaway comes across him right afterwards. The boy has run away from his abusive adoptive parents because he's in trouble -and not for the first time. This time he set the kitchen on fire. The rest of the film shows the changing relationship of the murderer and the runaway as they work to evade capture.

via Youtube:



The NYT has a mixed review. TCM has an overview.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Galilee


Galilee, by Clive Barker, is a 1998 fantasy novel. I enjoyed this one, a sweeping narrative covering a broad scope of time and place.

from the back of the book:
Rich and powerful, the Geary dynasty has reigned over American society for decades. But it is a family with dark, terrible secrets. For the Gearys are a family at war. Their adversaries are the Barbarossas, a family whose timeless origins lie in myth,whose mystical influence is felt in intense, sensual exchanges of flesh and soul. Now their battle is about to escalate.

When Galilee, prodigal prince of the Barbarossa clan, meets Rachel, the young bride of the Geary's own scion Mitchell, they fall in love, consumed by a passion that unleashes long-simmering hatred. Old insanities arise, old adulteries are uncovered, and a seemingly invincible family will begin to wither, exposing its unholy roots...
favorite quotes:
How did we all end up bemoaning the fact of living, instead of finding purpose in the fact?
.......
Unpretentious would be a kind description of the town; banal perhaps truer. If it once had some particular kind of charm, that charm's gone, demolished to make room for the great American ubiquities: cheap hamburgers, cheap liquor places, a market for soda that impersonates more expensive soda and cheese that impersonates milk product. By night the gas station's the brightest spot in town.

Kirkus Reviews calls it "entertaining".

SF Site calls it "engrossing" and says,
The truth of Galilee has less to do with its characters or their adventures than with its recognition of the importance of the storyteller—his voice and his conscience—in the telling of tales. In this truth is a redemption both personal to Barker and paramount to readers of dark and fantastic fiction, who work their way, again and again, through stories without point or purpose until coming upon the likes of Galilee.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Blue Flower


The Blue Flower is a 1995 novel by Penelope Fitzgerald. It was her last novel, published the year before her death at the age of 83. I think I must've just expected too much. I loved The Bookshop and Offshore, and critics heap copious praise on this one and say it is her masterpiece. Maybe. I guess I need to read more about her writing. To me, it was a collection of people I didn't care about doing things I wasn't particularly interested in. Sad. One out of 3 ain't bad odds, though, so I will still pick up her novels whenever I come across them. There's something about the way she writes that attracts me.

from the back of the book:
The Blue Flower is set in the age of Goethe, in the small towns and great universities of late-eighteenth-century Germany. It tells the true story of Friedrich von Hardenberg, a passionate, impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis. Fritz seeks his father’s permission to wed his “heart's heart,” his “spirit's guide” —a plain, simple child named Sophie von Kühn. It is an attachment that shocks his family and friends. Their brilliant young Fritz, betrothed to a twelve-year-old dullard? How can this be?

The irrationality of love, the transfiguration of the commonplace, the clarity of purpose that comes with knowing one’s own fate —these are the themes of this beguiling novel, themes treated with a mix of wit, grace, and mischievous humor unique to the art of Penelope Fitzgerald.
The NYT says, "Good as the other books are, "The Blue Flower" is better. It is a quite astonishing book, a masterpiece, as a number of British critics have already said...". The New York Review of Books calls it "her finest". The Independent calls it "her beautiful masterpiece". Publishers Weekly closes with this: "Fitzgerald has created an alternately biting and touching exploration of the nature of Romanticism -capital "R"". Kirkus Reviews concludes, "A historical novel that's touching, funny, unflinchingly tragic, and at the same time uncompromising in its accuracy, learning and detail: a book that brings its subject entirely alive, almost nothing seeming beyond its grasp."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gravity

Gravity is an award-winning 2013 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

I meant to see this in the theater but never got around to it. We picked it up at the DVD store, and were very impressed by this film. Sandra Bullock pretty much carries the entire movie and proves herself well up to the task. Even if you don't like movies that take place in space (or orbit) the drama here is the thing. Watch it!

trailer:



Moria gives it 5 out of 5 stars and names it one of the top 10 films from that year. Empire Online says, "Let’s cut to the chase. The simple truth of the matter is you’re going to love this movie. Love it..." Space.com gives the movie high praise and says, "Bullock's performance in "Gravity" is the kind of actor's tour de force that comes along maybe once in a quarter century. Yes, Sandra Bullock is that good."

Rotten Tomatoes has a 97% critics rating.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dreams (1955)

screenshot from film watched at Hulu.com

Dreams is a 1955 Ingmar Bergman film about two women who work together in the fashion industry who schedule a 2-day shoot in a near-by town. They are having relationship difficulties with the men in their lives. The older woman is trying to renew her affair with a married man; the younger woman -a model- has been asked by her gentleman friend not to go on the shoot and when she refuses he leaves her. The movie explores the way these women cope with the struggle. The scene at the top of the post occurs when the young model is approached by an elderly man who says he enjoys looking at her and wants to buy her something. He offers her pearls; she asks for hot chocolate and pastries. So sweet!

I watched it via Hulu when it was offered as one of their free films, but it's behind a paywall now. I did find the scene where she tries on the pearls:



The New York Times says:
His current lesson in love is realistic, unadorned and has the polish of the master craftsman. But it is not a major concept he is dramatizing, and it lacks the hallmarks of imagination, expressive symbolism and poetic nuances of some of the truly memorable films that followed "Dreams."
Bright Lights Film has a positive review and says, "Viewers for whom Dreams is an introduction to Bergman’s work are in an enviable position". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 40% but an audience rating of 77%.

Join the T Tuesday party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog, where we share a beverage of our choosing and links to our blog posts.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Wedding


I've been asked by a few people to post a photo of the bride in her dress. This one was taken by a member of the wedding party as photographer Bethany Veach readied the bride for more pictures. She did make a lovely bride!

Here are a couple of close-ups of the bodice:



Here's one of the bride and groom after the service:




Sunday, November 22, 2015

Shadow of a Broken Man


Shadow of a Broken Man by George C. Chesbro is the first in the long-running Mongo the Magnificent mystery series. The private detective is a former circus performer, a karate expert, a university professor, , and a criminologist. He's also a dwarf. There was a planned film based on one of the books, and there's an HBO series being considered for after Peter Dinklage finishes with Game of Thrones. I enjoyed this and will seek out the rest of the series.

synopsis taken from the author's website:
Shadow of a Broken Man is that rare work of fiction, a first novel that is so unusual, so taut and engrossing and yet so timely that it not only demands to be read in one sitting but will surely haunt the reader for longer afterward. On one level, this is a fast-paced thriller. But on another, far more important level it explores the uncharted powers of the mind -its infinite, perhaps dangerous, capacities and vulnerabilities. Brilliantly delving into that shadowy area of the extraordinary, the author explores how extrasensory perception can be used to ultimately affect the destiny of men and of nations.

Dr. Robert Frederickson, known to his friends as Mongo, is a professor of criminology at a New York City university, a former circus headliner, a black-belt karate adept and a private detective -who just incidentally happens to be a dwarf. His investigation into the tangled history of a renowned architect named Rafferty, who died -or is supposed to have died- in a bizarre accident, brings him up against Lippitt, a strange victim of Communist torture, whose interest in Rafferty goes deeper than patriotism. Mongo's tenacity sets in motion an incredible chain of events that comes to an explosive and terrifying climax on a New York waterfront, in which a deadly secret is revealed.

George Chesbro's gift for authentic detail, characterization and dialogue, his dazzling originality, and, above all, his inimitably cool style have combined to produce a uniquely powerful and entertaining first novel.

---From the dustjacket of the Simon & Schuster edition
Mystery File praises it saying, "The writing here is literate and fast-paced, the plot is intricate, the concept is bizarre yet entirely plausible."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Reckless Moment

The Reckless Moment is a 1949 film noir directed by Max Ophuls and starring James Mason (you can't go wrong with any of his movies), Joan Bennett, Geraldine Brooks, and an uncreditted William Schallert (who has appearances in Star Trek's The Trouble with Tribbles and Star Trek: DS9's Sanctuary). As much as I like James Mason, though, this film is just a touch frantic for my taste.

No good comes of protecting your children from the consequences of their actions.

This voice-over is heard following the opening credits:
This happened last year, about a week before Christmas. The Harper family lived in a charming community called Balboa, about 50 miles from Los Angeles. Early one morning, Mrs. Harper took her car and drove to Los Angeles and...

You can watch it via Youtube in parts. Here's part 1:



Time Out says, "A marvellous, tantalising thriller, it also features never-better performances from Mason and Bennett." TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 86%.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rock'n Dough Pizza and Brew Co.

As I understand it, Rock'n Dough Pizza and Brew Co. started out as a food truck and expanded into a storefront restaurant. We went there last week -for our weekly Saturday pizza- to check them out. You can see the menu here. There's nothing much to look at on the outside, just a storefront location in a strip mall. Inside you order at the counter, where you can get your own drink refills:


I had a spinach calzone and coke:


It was big, and I never thought I could finish it, but I ate every bite. It'll be hard not to order a calzone every time we come here, it was so good!

The Husband and The Younger Son ordered a large Animal Lovers pizza:


They should've split a medium or gotten pizza by the slice; the 20" large was huge. They brought part of it home, and The Younger Son ate it later. In fact he liked it better later, as he said the pizza crust was a little softer than he preferred and warming it up at home gave it a firmer crust.

We'll definitely go back. I want to try the pizza, their Grinders (I didn't know what a grinder was, so I googled it), and the desserts.

OnlyInYourState.com names it one of the top 10 pizza places in the state. Yelp gives it 4 out of 5 stars. Trip Advisor gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The Dining with Monkeys blog likes it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Probability Sun


Probability Sun is the 2001 science fiction novel -2nd in a trilogy- by Nancy Kress. I thoroughly enjoyed the first one and liked this even better. A fun read, if a bit heavy on physics I can't begin to understand. I had trouble putting it down. You can read the prologue here.

The dedication:
For Charles Sheffield, founder, The Charitable Foundation for the Promotion of Scientific Literacy Among People Purporting to Be Science Fiction Writers
from the back of the book:
Salvation or Annihilation?

A strange artifact has been discovered on a distant planet, an artifact that may be the key to humanity's salvation. For we at war with the Fallers, an alien race bent on nothing short of genocide, and this is a war we are losing. The artifact is not only a powerful weapon, but possibly the rosetta stone to a lost superscience ... a superscience that the Fallers may have already decoded. Or it may be a doomsday machine that could destroy the very fabric of space.
Kirkus Reviews concludes, "Kress’s always-excellent characters wrestle with a splendid array of puzzles and problems, human, alien, and scientific: another resounding success for this talented, sure-footed writer." Publishers Weekly closes with this: "Readers will start this novel because of Kress's reputation, will read it for the adventure and will like it for the characters and the science."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mac's Burgers


Mac's Burgers moved into the old Dan McGuinness Irish Pub space. I still miss Dan McGuinness. Their fish and chips weekly special was a treat. Dan McGuinness has moved into a tiny space next door and turned itself into a hole-in-the-wall bar without food.

So... I go to Mac's Burgers reluctantly, needing to be convinced that this place is a comfortable substitute for the old one. The menu is focused on mac-and-cheese and burgers. Mac-and-cheese is ok but hardly my favorite dish, and it's not a draw for me as a restaurant offering. The burgers are cheesey. The Husband and The Younger Son ordered cheeseburgers, just regular cheeseburgers, which is an item not even on the menu. I got the "Old School" burger without mustard. This struck me as an excellent imitation of the burgers we used to get at the Mid-South Fair, but those were singles and cost 2 bucks. This was a double and was $9.


I didn't get photos of the inside, but the cozy warm pub atmosphere is gone, and the space is hard and spare. I don't think I'm their target audience.

What can I say? I miss Dan McGuinness, but that's not the only thing. I'm not getting the macaroni and cheese emphasis, and I can get a better, cheaper burger elsewhere. Them that likes it speaks well of it, as the saying goes, but I'll leave them to eat here in peace, while I get burgers elsewhere.

Yelp gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars and had this diner-submitted photo of the interior:

Trip Advisor also gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The Memphis Flyer has a mixed review and photos of their food. Dining With Monkeys blog has a positive review and photos. History and Pearls blog has a positive review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cup of Tea

Cup of Tea:



sung by Carly Rae Jepsen, who will celebrate her 30th birthday this coming Saturday.

Lyrics excerpt:
A cup of tea, a cup of tea
I've been driving all night, you won't turn on your light that easily
A neon sign offers some shelter across the street
Guess I'll drink my trouble down with a cup of tea

Please join the weekly gathering hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth over at the Altered Book Lover blog. Share a drink with us. Today Elizabeth is posting a tribute to the French people in light of the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is a 2013 thriller starring Tom Hanks as a commercial cargo ship captain whose ship is highjacked by Somali pirates. Anyone who thinks a life of piracy is a romantic endeavor filled with rich plunder might want to check out this movie before committing. This film was a birthday present from The Younger Son. We all enjoyed it.

trailer:


There is some question as to how accurate this film is. It was based on a true story, but perspective is key. Some of the crew members of the ship found fault. I never assume that being based on a true story means that a film is an accurate re-telling of events. There are stories here, here and elsewhere about people who disagreed with parts of the movie.

Slant Magazine says, "as it progresses, Captain Phillips really never stops getting better." Rolling Stone gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says regarding Hanks, "This is acting of the highest order in a movie that raises the bar on what a true-life action thriller can do." Empire Online says, "... there is no attempt to crassly crowdplease. Yet it still has all the momentum and clench-strength to do exactly that: please crowds."

Roger Ebert's site says, "What unfolds in the next two hours is gripping enough that more than a few theater armrests will probably require upholstery repair." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 93%.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven is a 2005 historical drama about the Crusades. It's directed by Ridley Scott and stars Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Marton Csokas, Liam Neeson, Edward Norton, Michael Sheen... That ought to tell you enough to know you should see this film. Between the director and the cast you can't go wrong. Besides that, it's a riveting story.

trailer:



Time Out says, " it’s striking in thought and deed, and you will honestly believe they rebuilt twelfth-century Jerusalem for the occasion." Roger Ebert gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says, "The movie is above all about the personal codes of its heroes, both Christian and Muslim."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Louisiana Story

Louisiana Story is a 1948 docudrama fiction movie. The score won a Pulitzer Prize for Music.

onscreen before the credits:
Louisiana Story being an account of certain adventures of a cajun (Acadian) boy who lives in the marshlands of Petit Anse Bayou in Louisiana.



FilmReference.com says, "The film is a poetic reflection of [director] Flaherty's youth, in which he explores his own life-long relationship to the wilderness and natural environment, and to the people who live there" and concludes that it "remains an enduring work of art for its sheer visual beauty". DVD Talk says, "If one can surrender to an evocation of the world as a child might see it and understand it – according to Frances, this was the Flaherty's intention – Louisiana Story works well enough."

Senses of Cinema says,
Often considered to be Robert Flaherty’s masterwork, Louisiana Story is the culmination of Flaherty’s poetic method, formally and thematically drawing together the promise that can be seen in Nanook of the North, Man of Aran and The Land, with a mediation between modernity and regionalism. While The Land marks a shift from the pre- modern nostalgia of the early film to an engagement with modernity, Louisiana Story directly addresses the issue of the environmental impact of mechanisation upon the pristine environment of the bayous of Louisiana in a film sponsored by Standard Oil albeit with the approval of the sponsor.
DVD Journal says,
Offensive corporate propaganda aside, Louisiana Story won the Venice Film Festival's International Prize that year for its "lyrical beauty." The 1952 Sight and Sound Critics' Poll dubbed it one of the Top Ten Films of All Time, and in 1994 the Library of Congress dubbed Louisiana Story "culturally significant" and ranked it among the first films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
This film is listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 79%.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Ghoul (1975)

The Ghoul (also known as The Thing in the Attic) is a 1975 horror film starring Peter Cushing and John Hurt. There's an evil thing in the attic, a former priest protecting the secret, exotic weirdness originating in India, cannibalism, insane hired help... Just the thing to put back for next October's horror viewings. Eerie creepiness.



Moria gives it 2 out of 5 stars and says, "The padding seems obvious at times. However, the atmosphere of strangeness amid the mist-flowing moors is certainly well evoked, and Peter Cushing gives a strong performance as always." Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a critics score, but the audience score is 40%.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1Q84


1Q84 is a 2009-2010 novel by Haruki Murakami.

from the back of the book:
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell's -1Q84 is a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
I like a long book. Honest. I used to seek them out, and -though I don't do that any more- I don't find a book's length particularly intimidating. But this book is long, at 1,157 pages in my edition. Given the choice of re-reading a book this length I wouldn't choose this one. It's not that the pace is slow, even though it is; and it's not that it's confusing, as I've heard some people say. I guess I just find the characters themselves unengaging and unbelieveable. I'm also troubled by the image of the male characters, helpless and unable to move, with large, hard erections, being mounted for the purpose of sex by pre-pubescent girls. I found the assurances that the girls can't get pregnant because they haven't had their first periods bizarre. As yet another teen-aged girl climbs on top of a poor, helpless man, I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking, "Well, I knew it was a fantasy novel when I bought it." I also got tired of reading descriptions of breasts (both from the narrator and from the characters) and pubic hair. I don't tend to be particularly delicate about descriptions of body parts, but -as with Mickey Spillane and his focus on lips- I get tired of the repetition. These issues made continuing to read the book difficult at times.

The book opens with Janacek's Sinfonietta, and the piece recurs throughout the book. I liked that.

favorite quotes:
What did it mean for a person to be free? she would often ask herself. Even if you managed to escape from one cage, weren't you just in another, larger one?
....
"Humans see time as a straight line. It's like putting notches on a long, straight stick. The notch here is the future, the one on this side is the past, and the present is the point right here. Do you understand?"

"I think so."

"But actually time isn't a straight line. It doesn't have a shape. In all senses of the term, it doesn't have any form. But since we can't picture something without form in our minds, for the sake of convenience we understand it as a straight line. At this point humans are the only ones who can make that sort of conceptual substitution."

"But maybe we are the ones who are wrong."
....
"When you prick a person with a needle, red blood comes out -that's the real world."
....
The lawyer had said so. So it must be true -or, at least, a fact, in a legal sense. But it felt like the more facts that were revealed, the more the truth receded. Why would that be?
....
The NYT calls it "stupefying" -and not in a good way- and says, "“1Q84” has even his most ardent fans doing back flips as they try to justify this book’s glaring troubles." The Atlantic asks, "What is the sound of one book flopping?"

Slate Magazine says, "It is tempting to explain these weaknesses in terms of what is lost in translation, just as it is tempting to dismiss Murakami as an artless writer. Neither judgment is fair. Unbelievable characters, forced exposition, and rambling dialogue are unlikely to read any less awkwardly in Murakami’s native tongue." The LRB says it's "a bit like watching a Hollywood-influenced Japanese movie in a version that’s been dubbed by American actors."

The LA Review of Books shares my distaste of the breast focus, saying,
Nevertheless, one passing reference likely would have sufficed, and somewhere in the fourth or fifth or sixth such passage, there is the distinct whiff of perviness. Pervy because of the repetition, but also because, while these descriptions are offered from the POV of a female character (usually Aomame), commenting on either her own body or someone else's, they don't sound like a woman speaking. Rather, they sound like a man (or a teenage boy) describing a woman's breasts, or more specifically, like a teenage boy's fantasy of a woman describing another woman's breasts.

NPR calls it "a gorgeous festival of words". Salon and The Daily Beast have positive reviews. The Wall Street Journal says, "if you can soldier through the prose and some rather tremendous longueurs, you'll find genuine wisdom and emotional depth in "1Q84."" Kirkus Reviews calls it a "dreamlike, strange and wholly unforgettable epic."

io9 says, "1Q84 is definitely not Murakami's best novel, but I still enjoyed bits and pieces of it."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Westerner

The Westerner is a 1940 William Wyler-directed Western starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan (who got an unprecedented 3rd Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this), Forrest Tucker (always good, in my opinion), Chill Wills, Paul Hurst (who was in Gone with the Wind and The Ox Bow Incident), Dana Andrews in his first film (he was also in The Best Years of Our Lives, Laura and The Ox Bow Incident), Charles Halton (who was a character actor whose face is well-known by lovers of old movies) and Tom Tyler (who played The Phantom in the 1940s serial).

I enjoyed this. The acting and characters are wonderful. Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan work great together!

written on-screen after the credits:
After the Civil War, America, in the throes of rebirth, set its face West where the land was free.

First came the cattlemen and with them "Judge" Roy Bean, who took the law into his own hands, administering justice according to his lights. That he left his impress on the history of Texas is tribute to his greatness. Then into his stronghold moved another army, the homesteaders, who ploughed the soil, fenced the fields, to bring security to their wives and children.

War was inevitable, a war out of which grew the Texas of today.



Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dahlias in the Sun

Dahlias in the Sun:


is a 1920 painting by Henri-Jean Guillaume Martin, a French Impressionist painter who was born on August 5, 1860, and died on November 12, 1943.

You can see more of his work online at WikiArt.

I love yellow flowers in the Autumn. I have a wild sunflower that blooms this time of year, and I enjoy them, and chrysanthemums, and whatever else yellow and flowering I can find. It cheers me.

Here are my little wild sunflowers on the patio:


The Daughter also loves sunflowers, and you can see one in this lovely bouquet, which [shown a bit disarranged here] was the cake topper at her wedding this past week-end:


It was intended to serve as the bouquet to toss, but the photographer changed things up a little. It worked fine her way. I've found if I leave decisions like that to the professionals on the scene things go more smoothly than if I try to micromanage everything.

And here's my sunflower cup with coffee:


Share your drink at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's Tea Tuesday party at their blog. Elizabeth is observing Remembrance Day.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Dredd

This is the 3rd or 4th time I've seen Dredd, but I don't see that I've ever blogged it. Dredd is actually a fun movie and quite re-watchable, though I'd never have suspected that before seeing it the first time. A science fiction/action/cop film, it came out in 2012 and stars Karl Urban. Don't confuse it with Judge Dredd, which came out in 1995 and starred Sylvester Stallone.

trailer:



Moria complains that it's more action film and not much science fiction. NPR says, "Not only is Dredd a smart bit of September counterprogramming, it's a gleefully audacious, visceral, near-perfect action movie." Forbes says the main character is "played to perfection by Karl Urban" and says, "I liked Dredd a lot, because there were so many aspects to like."

Sunday, November 08, 2015

King Pig 42


Perfect for Memphis, where Bar-b-que rules!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

The Man Who Laughs is a 1928 silent horror/melodrama. This is a tragic story in the classic sense of that word. It's directed by Paul Leni, who died at age 44 just a year after this film's release. It stars Conrad Veidt, who died of a heart attack at age 50. Oh, to think of what might have been if these men had lived longer!

Mary Philbin also stars. She died of pneumonia in 1993 at age 90. Her last film appearance had been in 1929, just a year after The Man Who Laughs. She never married, and after her retirement lived as a virtual recluse in her father's home. She stayed there even after her father, step-mother and mother had died. Rediscovered in the 1960s she made a few public appearances until she retired permanently, suffering from Alzheimer's.

via Youtube:


Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars. DVD Talk calls it "an excellent example of the artistic silent cinema that was wiped out by the coming of sound" and says, "Direction, design and acting are superb. Conrad Veidt's performance is the equal of Lon Chaney and the film as a whole much more satisfying than Universal's earlier Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera."

It's on Roger Ebert's Great Movies list. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 100%.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural

Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural is a 1975 horror film. This is a creepy little piece, with vampires and a little blond, blue-eyed 13-year-old picture of innocence who is lured to their camp. I liked the weirdness of this one. It's definitely worth re-watching.

via Youtube:


DVD Talk says, "The production masterstroke was the casting of seventeen year-old Cheryl Smith as the virginal innocent Lila Lee, a daughter of scandal lured to her doom by the matriarchal vampiress Lemora" and declares: "An imaginative script, a fine central performance and a willingness to venture into taboo subject matter." DVD Verdict calls it "one of the best vampire films ever made". Weird Wild Realm says,
A notorious film in its day, the Catholic Film Board had it on their list of condemned movies for two decades. Today it seems not so daring but is nevertheless a powerful low-budget film with the intimations of the preacher having molested the child Lila, & the lesbianism between Lemora (Leslie Gilb) & Lila is discomfiting to say the least, since Lila is only thirteen years old.
It has a critics rating of 86% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Acceptance


Acceptance is the 3rd book in Jeff VanderMeer's 2014 Southern Reach trilogy, though I honestly think the division of this work into separate books is arbitrary and that it would be better approached as a single book. The entire work is mind-expanding, and I'm pleased it seems to be getting attention and appreciation in the larger literary world.

from the back of the book:
In the conclusion to the /new York Times best-selling Southern Reach trilogy, questions are answered, true natures revealed, terrors deepened.

It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it —the Southern Reach— has collapsed in on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote island that may hold the answers they’ve been seeking. If they fail, the outer world is in peril.

Meanwhile, Acceptance tunnels ever deeper into the circumstances surrounding the creation of Area X —what initiated this unnatural upheaval? Among the many who have tried, who has gotten close to understanding Area X —and who may have been corrupted by it?

In this last installment of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may be solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound —or terrifying.
favorite quote:
"Sometimes you need to know when to go on to the next thing -for the sake of other people."
NPR says it
is at different times the best haunted lighthouse story ever written, a deeply unsettling tale of first contact, a book about death, a book about obsession and loss, a book about the horrifying experience of confronting an intelligence far greater and far stranger than our own, and a book about sea monsters.
Slate says, "This amazing trilogy is like Lost, except you won't be enraged when you finish reading it." Strange Horizons has a positive review of the trilogy. Kirkus Reviews concludes, "We leave knowing more about Area X than we started; we may not understand it any better, but we leave transformed, as do all travelers to that uncanny place."

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Book of Life

The Book of Life is a 2014 animated film. The Younger Son bought me the DVD for an occasion, and we've just now gotten around to watching it. It's wonderful! We all enjoyed it.

trailer:



The Guardian gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "It’s refreshingly sparky fare, boasting eye-catching design (wooden toys inspire CG magic), musical weirdness (Radiohead will never sound the same again) and proper laugh-out-loud jokes for young and old alike."

Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, calls it a "Mexican fiesta of animated splendor" and says,
“The Book of Life” personifies the philosophy that drives The Day of the Dead and encourages a healthy way to celebrate those who are gone. As he [the director] puts it, “As long as you remember those who came before you, and as long as you tell their stories, cook their dishes, and sing their songs … they’re with you. They live inside your heart.”
Time Out gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "brightly detailed, exuberant and simply bursting with winning cultural pride." It has a critics rating of 82% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Leonard's Pit Barbecue


Leonard's Pit Barbecue is a Memphis institution. The first one opened in 1922, and although that location is no longer open, the tradition is alive and well in its current home. Here are photos of part of the interior:



I had the small bbq plate, which comes with beans and fries:


The Husband had a large bbq sandwich with a side order of shoestring fries, and The Younger Son had a large bbq sandwich with a side order of wedge fries. I had Coke, The Husband had iced tea, and The Younger Son had water. You can read the menu here. Our total was around $25 before tip, so this is quite reasonable. The service was fast and pleasant. It had been years since we had been here, but the bbq was so good! We'll start going there more often now that we've remembered it. It says a lot about Memphis that there is so much good barbecue here that great restaurants fall off our radar.

Please join the weekly T Tuesday party hosted by Bleubeard and Elizabeth. Today our hostess is sharing homemade pumpkin bread and jasmine tea. Yummmm...

Monday, November 02, 2015

Harvey (1950)

Harvey is an old favorite in our house. It's got some of the elements of horror (insane asylum, people who see a huge creature that's not really there, but the creature may actually really be there), but it's a fantasy/comedy. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the 1950 movie stars James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake, and Cecil Kellaway. This is a gentle, priceless film, and if you haven't seen it you should rush right out as soon as possible and get this movie.

trailer:



Moria calls it " one of the genuine American feelgood classics". Bright Lights Film Journal has a lengthy critique.

DVD Talk says, "Filled with memorable performances, great characters, sharp one-liners and tons of heart, it's a true charmer for viewers of all ages. It's also held up well during the last 60+ years". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 84% and an audience rating of 93%.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a 2014 science fiction film based on the Marvel Comics super hero team. Such great fun! Definitely re-watchable, and I've seen it 3 times so far.

trailer:


I still don't have one of these solar-powered dancing baby Groots:


but I will, oh yes, I will!

Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and has a positive review. BFI Sight and Sound also has a positive review. SF Signal concludes, "Guardians of the Galaxy hardly breaks new ground, but honestly, where else are you going to find starship escapes played to the music of Rupert Holmes’s “Escape?”"

Rolling Stone says it "hits you like an exhilarating blast of fun-fun-fun". Empire Online calls it "Colourful, tongue-in-cheek fun". Entertainment Weekly gives it an A- and says it "feels excitingly unpredictable".

Roger Ebert's site calls it "a fun and relatively fresh space Western". Rotten Tomatoes has a 91% critics score.